Photography Mitchell Sams

models walk on water at saint laurent

With a white palm lined black lake catwalk and twinkling Eiffel Tower, Paris belonged to Anthony Vaccarello and his Saint Laurent woman.

by Steve Salter
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26 September 2018, 11:03pm

Photography Mitchell Sams

After he reimagined the rich fashion history of Yves Saint Laurent for a new generation during an epic open-air Trocadero spring/summer 18 show, the fashion set wondered just how Anthony Vaccarello was going to up the ante when he returned to the same venue this season. Adding even more drama to that picture postcard Eiffel Tower backdrop, the Vincent Lamaoroux-designed white palm trees lined the liquid catwalk. It reflected the world that Anthony and his Saint Laurent team had crafted. A world built on the foundations that Yves laid in the 60s and 70s, but in which he has built something truly new.

In the lead up to the show, Anthony shared an image from 1960 of Yves fitting a stage outfit for Sylvie Vartan, soon followed by another from 1972 of the French singer wearing a sequined-Saint Laurent jumpsuit. Anthony was once again looking back to look forward. Throughout the collection itself there were reimagined memories; from 60s diamanté-adorned shift dresses to 70s second-skin tuxedos, velvet blazers and pussy-bow blouses. It was the past remixed for today. Then came one of Anthony’s own muses, Anna Ewers, followed by his star-studded show cast of Kaia, Abbey Lee, Adut, Anja, Freja, Binx and so many more. They walked on water and made a splash in the process.

The collection saw Anthony remix some of the greatest hits and forgotten B-sides of Yves Saint Laurent, dance floor fillers from the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s and 00s, while adding a few new banging tracks of his own too. The message for the Saint Laurent woman was take what you want and make it yours. The house has a long standing history of empowering women and this message has remained a core value throughout its 57-year history. Here, Anthony embraced this value once again with a collection that conveyed the Saint Laurent woman as an independent, confident, carefree, liberated, bold individual who loves to have fun and express herself. “It’s a silhouette created by a variety of pieces, inspired by different eras and timeless icons,” Anthony explained post-show. “Eclecticism is freedom to build yourself, express your own personality and respect your complexity.”

Each look was a collage of dynamic individuality created by mixing elements from different decades, diversified by clashes of colour. Just as Paloma Picasso’s vintage re-styling inspired Yves Saint Laurent's 1971 spring haute couture -- a collection that shook the foundations of fashion to create a new landscape -- codes were blended and reborn for today. Boyish silhouettes held a feminine confidence while walking the Trocadero. Tailoring from the 60s was reimagined in jersey to renew the traditional couture approach. Saint Laurent's audacious elegance was subtlety evoked to close the show with a series of asymmetric bodysuits and chiffon dresses.

While evoking its founder’s elegance, the dark sexiness of it all echoed Anthony’s own signatures, possibly more than we’ve seen previously. Even one of the earrings cane from Anthony’s La Cambre graduate collection. Shown alongside the Yves-esque animal prints, the signatures of Saint Laurent’s past and present combined to create a powerful new handwriting. Back in March 2011, US Vogue wrote of Anthony Vacarrello’s acclaimed debut that “it’s always black, always sexy.” Seven years later, his spectrum has widened but it is no less sexy and in this post-#metoo landscape, Anthony is designing clothes that empower women to dress how they damn well please. Whether a micro-short, tassel-covered nipples, cut-out swimwear or luxe-tailoring, the choice is theirs.

There has been an Hedi Slimane-shaped shadow cast over the city, long before Paris Fashion Week even started. The fashion set wondered just how the other artistic directors would react to his return? Well, Anthony Vaccarello waited for the sun to set, ignored the noise and then continued his exploration of timeless glamour at Saint Laurent. It was a powerful statement.

This article originally appeared on i-D UK.